ARRI ALEXA vs RED KOMODO Side-by-Side – Dynamic Range, Color Science, and More

It doesn’t seem like we will ever escape the ARRI vs RED debate. I’m not complaining though. ARRI and RED being competitive is good for the industry and should push everyone to make their next camera their best. 

It’s also just fun to take a look at some high-end rigs. Today we have a look at the RED KOMODO and see how it stacks up against an ARRI ALEXA Classic. This is far from a scientific comparison, but it does seem fun.

Renaissance Digital is to thank for this fun test of dynamic range, color science, and more. Plus, they threw in a RED EPIC DRAGON just because.

Testing these out was done in a variety of ways. One of the best was shooting a short film and they have a good amount of behind the scenes to show off.

RED KOMODO 6K Cinema Camera

Image Credit: RED


Interestingly, in the tests they believed that the RED and ARRI could cut together easily. Both look good.

In tungsten lighting it wasn’t quite as good of a match.

Now, working indoors with natural daylight through a window resulted in dramatically different looks. Skin tones and color overall were way off.

Let’s look at some other factors.

Dynamic Range

This is where we can be impressed by just how good the ALEXA is even though it is ancient by technology standards.

Bringing the exposure down on the scene shows that it holds onto the highlight detail better than the RED.

That’s not to say that the RED is bad, it just does lose some saturation and detail.

In the extreme example it is dramatic just how much information the ALEXA captures that isn’t there at all with the KOMODO.

Low Light

Moving on to a night setting with some light coming from surrounding buildings.

Looking side-by-side they seem very close. Noise and detail is about the same on both cameras.

Practically they are going to be similar.

Is This a Fair Comparison?

This is an interesting point of discussion. The ARRI ALEXA Classic, while old, was selling for $80,000 and was designed for large-budget professional productions. The KOMODO is essentially an entry-level cinema camera from RED.

Today these two can be found in a similar price range and some people are considering each as a viable option.

In their opinion, if you are a solo shooter then the KOMODO will treat you well.

If you work with a crew or more static shooting then the ALEXA Classic could be a nice choice.

ARRI Alexa mIni LF

Image by ARRI

Still, there are some features that RED has that ARRI does not. One good example is autofocus, which is becoming more and more expected these days.

Even with the newer features the KOMODO is not the do-it-all camera. It’s not the best at low-light shooting or autofocus even though it is fine.

The RED KOMODO is a more sensible option than the ARRI in this comparison.

There are still those ARRI traits that are hard to beat. The ALEXA Classic may only be a 2K camera but it has strong codecs and produces undeniably gorgeous footage.

It even wins on important points like dynamic range.

Working with the EPIC DRAGON

Another camera tossed into the ring today is the RED EPIC DRAGON. It seems to be an interesting in between the ALEXA Classic and RED KOMODO.

It isn’t quite as good in low light as the ALEXA though.

Dynamic range is very good, coming closer to the ALEXA, though part of that is how it balances exposure.

RED does do a good job in holding information in the shadows – kind of the opposite to ARRI’s highlight rolloff.

Things look good as they head into the deep shadows which is thanks to the raw codecs.

A kit for the EPIC can actually run around the same cost as a KOMODO, probably a little more with the necessary accessories.

Working in mixed light the ALEXA also wins over the EPIC with a more neutral, natural color look. The KOMODO has some tweaked colors that might help it come closer to the ARRI today.

The EPIC and ARRI are larger and that is an important consideration as well.

So what do you think about all these comparisons?

[source: Renaissance Digital]

Order Links:

  • RED KOMODO 6K Cinema Camera (B&H)

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